Henry passes moratorium on construction of apartments, townhomes

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Credit: Jenni Girtman

Henry County recently imposed a one-year moratorium on applications to build new apartments, townhomes and duplexes.

Leaders of the south metro Atlanta community said the moratorium is necessary to help address overbuilding that is choking roads, putting a burden on public safety and adversely impacting neighborhood standards.

Henry is the second-fastest growing county in metro Atlanta and in recent years has become a magnet for warehousing and distribution facilities for some of the nation’s biggest brands, including Home Depot, Wayfair and mattress-maker Purple.

On Tuesday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced window installer Renewal by Andersen plans to open a manufacturing facility in Henry that will employ 900 workers.

“We’ve experienced a rapid increase in the development of multi-family housing over the past decade,” said Toussaint Kirk, director of the county’s planning and zoning office. “Also we’ve had increase traffic and burden put on public safety.”

The moratorium will not affect those who have already applied, are in the process of having their application reviewed or have been approved to build multi-family housing but have not yet turned dirt, he said.

Commissioner Dee Clemmons said she is concerned the decision could unfairly burden landowners whose property is zoned for apartments or townhomes. The moratorium will tie their hands even though they followed the county’s rules.

“I think this is an adverse action for property owners if you don’t include people that are already zoned (for multi-family),” she said.

County manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews said Clemmons has a point, but that Henry has to address its infrastructure problems.

“We have quite a bit of multi-family development that is developing along major corridors in the county and one of the biggest complaints that we’re hearing is that infrastructure is not in place, Mathew said.

Newly elected Commissioner Kevin Lewis said residents in District V, which he represents, support the moratorium. He said the moratorium will allow communities like his, which is home to several upcoming apartment projects, get a handle on the infrastructure improvements needed to meet demand.

“We need time to get ourselves together to make sure we grow the county in a responsible way,” he said. “Right now we’re not doing that.”